Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Completed Afghan

Well, almost exactly two years (ouch) after my last post about it, and who knows how long after I actually started, I'm here to say my granny square sampler afghan is done!  I wish I'd gotten it pinned up more square.  The blocks mostly came out of The Granny Square Book.  There are lots of repeat blocks and a few where I kind of did my own thing.  Many of them have extra dimensional flowers crocheted on top.  It really is a sampler- no real unifying color scheme and no real unifying block theme.  Probably I should have stuck to either a color scheme or just one or two blocks but that's ok.  It's eclectic and colorful which makes me happy.  It's pretty large, about 85" x 65".

Here are a few close ups of the blocks.  I'm really fond of both of these.

The big yellow one here was one I made up, and it really is very floppy.  I had to pin up all those petals to even photograph it.

Even though they're all granny squares, they were really all the same size, and there was a whole row of big white ones in the middle that didn't require as many blocks to make the row.  I just sort of eased them all together.  I think a crochet judge would really ding me, but this definitely isn't for show.

I was going to block it more square after washing, but alas things went awry. First off, I used cotton washcloth yarn for the whole thing.  I would NOT recommend this for an afghan.  It's really heavy and not as soft and snuggly as you'd like for an afghan.  Then, the pink yarn bled all over the white when a couple blocks got wet.  So I put it in the washer for a couple of cycles with some dawn to try to get out all the extra dye (like you would with a quilt) but I guess it didn't like that because one of the yarns really really disintegrated and left giant giant clods of linty bits all over the whole quilt.  Several others were also pretty bad.  In spite of long tails that were woven in, in several places the yarn had actually worn away leaving bits floppy and really messed up.  I'm not sure why this happened, I wash my dishcloths made with the same blocks and the same yarn all the time, with no problems.  Maybe it's because usually there are one or two dishcloths in a whole load of other wash instead of just the afghan with all yarn to rub?  Anyway, the result is that when you look at it close it now looks like an afghan that's decades old and been washed and washed and washed.  It'll still be snuggly, but I'm really hacked. 

Bonus, it was the project that had been on my UFO list the longest, so I'm super glad it's finished.

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Mandala is Finished!

My new mandala is finished you guys!  Its official name is "Ring around the Ranch" in honor of both the previous one (Ring around the Mole) and Josal Ranch, owned by the wonderful couple who commissioned the project.  I'm so excited to have finished it and delivered it to the clients.  They love it, so I consider it a job well done.  I finished it right after Christmas so it's a 2014 finish, but completing it feels like a great way to start 2015.  I've blogged about it a bunch, so there are tons of in progress pictures if you want to click back through them.

One feature I really like is the secondary patterns in the quilting.  You can see them a little bit in the overall picture, but also in some of the detail shots.  Th large nine-pointed star and nonagon in the center (around the robins), and the large arcs that frame each corner.

Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Here are a few detailed shots of the large corner birds.  I had a good time with these birds.  They're one of my favorite parts of the piece.  I think I like the crested caracara (bottom turquoise one) best, but the owls are a close second.    For those of you that remember the wretched holes, I patched them with the bo-nash powder and quilted over them and you really can't see them at all.  They're right above and below the beak on the left heron.

As before all the animals have beaded eye or face details.  On some of the larger animals it's more than one bead (to give some shape) although they're quite hard to see in the photos.  My mom said the stray green threads kept catching her eye but when she'd reach up to pluck them off, she'd realize they were catfish whiskers....

Blue Heron Detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Red-tailed hawk detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Crested Caracara detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Great Horned Owl detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Here are a few shots of the areas with most of the overlays.

Detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

 And finally, a couple of pictures of the center.  The logo in the middle is their ranch sign/brand.

Detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Detail, Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

And here's a picture they sent me of the quilt hanging in their home.  I love the way it looks on the rock wall, and the warm colors in those two brown birds go very well with the bench!
Ring Around the Ranch, 2014, 57" x 57" c. Shannon Conley

Many thanks to the Kanetzky's for supporting my work.  Now it's off to the 2015 projects!  I'm linking up with the fabulous Nina-Marie as always!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas Ornament For Mike

Happy 2015 everyone!  I hope the new year starts out with hope for all of you.  I don't really do too well with resolutions (although does it count if I had grapefruit for lunch?), but I think my goal in 2015 is going to be being more active.  Not active as in busy, I'm always plenty busy, but active as opposed to passive in the face of life challenges.

We were privileged to have a wonderful break over the holidays at my parent's house and luckily my sister and her family were able to be there at the same time as we were so we got to see and hang out with the fabulous kiddos.  Anna and Alex get more fun every time I see them.  My mom and I also had a day to try out some new-to-us techniques which I'll be sharing in the next week or so.  First though follow-up with a few more after Christmas posts.

Last week I shared the ornaments I made for the kids and for some friends of mine, but I knew the Swedish stars weren't quite Mike's thing.  When my bloggy friend Lee Anna over at Not Afraid of Color shared her fabulous snow globe ornaments I knew I had to try them out.  I made this one for Mike, the center is his motorcycle (it's a machine embroidery) and I covered it with white tulle and quilted snowflakes.  He's not really into ornaments (though he is into motorcycles) but I think it turned out really cute!  It was pretty fun actually, and I think I might make some more for everybody next year.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Christmas Presents for the Kids

As always there were a few handmade Christmas presents for the kids in addition to their ornaments.  First up was another teddy bear from Amigurumi Two.  This time I made the bunny and I think she turned our really sweet.  The Koala was a big hit at Alex's birthday so my sister requested another one (so they wouldn't take it from each other).  I love being able to use stash yarn, and the bunny is just as soft as the koala was.  She was well-liked by the kids on Christmas, and surprisingly by the Bentley-dog who I found cuddling with the bunny several different times.

I also recently inherited a giant bag (garbage bag-sized) of lace trim.  There was more in there than I could ever use in a million years, so I thought I'd make a fun skirt for Anna's dress up chest.  It's pretty long for her now, but with any luck she'll be able to play with it for a long time.  I hope she likes it- it seems like the kind of thing that would go well for dress up.  I, for one, imagine using it as a headpiece as well, but maybe I was the only small child who liked to turn dress up clothes into elaborate veils and hats....  I was inspired by all the no-sew tutu tutorials, but I didn't want all the bulk of knots around the waist, so I just folded each piece of lace in half and sewed a little pocked on the top and then threaded it on the elastic.  I did knot a couple of short curly pieces on top after threading all the rest just to give texture.  I feel like I hardly made a dent in the lace selection (I estimate having used ~50 yards for the skirt) so there's plenty left for other projects.  Thanks so much to my mom's friend Willa who gave it all to me.  It turned out to be a bit too big for Anna just yet, but Alex loved wearing it over his head- he looked like a Norseman draped in furs or something!

Finally I made Alex a "who loves Alex" book just like the one I made Anna before.  Evidently I didn't blog about it.  Anyway, it's a photo book with big pictures of Alex on each page with all the people who love him.  That is,  "This is Grandmother.  Grandmother loves Alex!" and so on.  The printouts are just regular printer paper in sheet protectors, intended to be swapped out easily if handled too roughly.  Becky said Anna really enjoyed looking at hers, so I decided to make one for Alex too.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Ornaments

I make different ornaments each year to give to Anna and Alex as well as other special friends and family.  This year I settled on woven stars; and Amanda over at House Revivals has a really great series of tutorials (which I followed very closely).  She makes hers out of old book pages, but of course I used fabric.  I recently inherited a bunch of Christmas prints, and I thought this would be a perfect use for them.

The ornaments are really not difficult to make, as Amanda said, the most time consuming part is making the strips.  My strips were all 6 inches long and either 1/4 or 1/2 inch wide.  I wasn't sure whether fabric would be stiff enough, but I think it worked ok.  Each strip is four layers thick: I folded 1.25 or 2.25 inch strips in half, then in half again (like you would for a purse strap only without interfacing) then sewed down the middle.  I assembled them with fabric glue and used mini binder clips to hold the corners down.  I tried a bunch of different variations and had a lot of fun.  My ornaments weren't quite as dimensional as hers were, I think because the fabric was so flexible, so I sewed a stack of four beads inside to hold the two sides apart and make them feel more open.

They're all 8 pointed except the one on the bottom right.  I thought I'd try to do one that was 6 pointed, but I didn't think it through quite right and wound up with 12 points, too many strips, and difficulty in assembly; thus only one like that!

This one had extra layers of weaving.  I like how it looked (in fact I kept this one) but it didn't line up quite right and turned out to be kind of a pain to make so I only did one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I'm still busily plugging away at the to-finish-before-Christmas projects, but we've started celebrating already here and I'm trying to lighten up a little bit.  Good Christmas music and time with Mike have helped!

Many apologies to those who are tired of seeing this quilt, but I think only a couple more posts and it'll be finished!  I've finished quilting the new Mandala, and am now working on beading the animal eyes.  After that it's just binding and adding the label and pocket then this one can go off to its new home.

And finally, a gratuitous dog picture, because everyone needs one of those.

Wishing you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas and holiday season!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Quilting Progress

I've been quilting along on my new animal mandala, you can see some of the progress below.  I've also been working on some projects for Christmas and trying to find the advent spirit amid the stress and chaos whirling around.

Last night, Mike and I drove around to look at Christmas lights- this is one of my favorite traditions for the two of us.  As always, the lights at Chesapeake were lovely.

Two messages from my advent calendar in the last week that particularly struck me.  "In the 6th century, St. Benedict began his monastic rule with the word 'listen'.  Not a bad word to carry into advent." and "Mary carried Jesus, God's love and truth, into the world.  We can do that too."  I'm trying.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Baby Quilt for Camille

One of our good friends is having a baby after the first of the year, so of course I had to make her a baby quilt.  She's actually an extremely talented singer and songwriter (Camille Harp), you should check out her music.  Many of Mike and my first dates were at her shows and we still go hear her whenever we can.

Anyway, I made her a scrappy baby quilt using fun things from my stash.  It was so fun to go through and remember what projects everything was from. I also included a tiny teddy bear I crocheted (from this book) on the way home from Thanksgiving and an embroidered burp cloth and bib.  I made several other scrappy tops while I was at it, and I'll probably donate most of them (when I get a chance to quilt them), but I'm out of time at the moment!


I hope Camille, Tom, and the baby enjoy these!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Many thanks to all those who offered their condolences about my wretched holes!  The Bo-Nash powder was great- it worked exactly as it promised, however, even with the patch, you can still sort of see the holes.  I'm hoping some judicious quilting will help.

Anyway, I moved on.  I went ahead and marked the background for quilting prior to taking the quilt top off my design wall since last time I didn't do it until after it was layered and basted and the puffiness from the batting was a pain to mark over.

I've also now successfully quilted all of the animals to the first layer of batting.  I'm doing this one just like my last one in this respect.  I quilted the animals only on the first layer of batting, and then when I add the second layer of batting and ditch quilt around the appliques/stitch down the background, the animals should puff up nicely.  Many of them are just too big to go without any stitching, and I like the extra detail it provides, but it's more fun if they puff up.  I'm taking it to my mom's over Thanksgiving to baste all the layers together on her longarm- makes it so much easier to quilt on my home machine.

The big birds in the four corners are all quilted with different metallic threads, which makes me happy.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Awesome and Awful?

Hooray for progress on the new mandala!  The top is finished! 

And then, there's this.  This happened last Saturday as I was attaching the last animals.  Only now after several intervening days have swear words stopped coming out of my mouth (sorry for the bad attitude, but ACK).  I don't know if you can tell, but this is four holes in my quilt top.  From my iron. After days of working with the iron on this quilt with no problems.  I'm refraining from screaming in all caps in the blog post only because who wants to read that?

I've ordered some miracle Bo-Nash powder and generated some test holes.  The only thing I can do is try to patch it with the Bo-nash from the back.  If that doesn't work, who knows what I'll try. What a mess.